Woodhenge just as old as neighbour Stonehenge, new research shows

WOODHENGE – the lesser-known timber cousin of Wiltshire’s world-famous stone circle down the road – is just as old as its near neighbour, according to new research.

It had long been believed Woodhenge was built in Amesbury around 300 years after its stone counterpart, in around 2,300BC.

But now, according to new carbon dating work by former lead advisor at Stonehenge and the Avebury World Heritage Site, Amanda Chadburn, it seems they are much closer related.

“These new dates are really exciting for a number of reasons,” she said. “Firstly, it means the monument is now well-dated using modern, reliable techniques so we can trust them.

“Secondly, they show that Woodhenge was built in at least two phases, with the henge being built around 150-200 years later than the timber rings.

“Only the timber rings appear to have the connection with the sun – so this date difference makes sense in terms of the architecture of the monument.

“Finally, the dates themselves are fantastic, they place the timber rings and the sarsens at Stonehenge at around the same time.”

Woodhenge is around two miles from Stonehenge and consists of six concentric ovals of standing posts, believed to be aligned with the summer solstice sunrise, surrounded by a bank and ditch.

It was discovered in 1925, when aerial photographs revealed the shape in a crop of wheat.

Today, visitors can see concrete markers showing the positions of the timber posts – for free.

“This shows that, along with the Southern Circle, Stonehenge with its solstital alignments isn’t a one-off in the landscape,” Amanda added.

“It now seems that prehistoric peoples were sighting the solstices at a number of monuments in this exact area, and at the same time. This is truly exceptional.”

The new findings will feature in Amanda’s new book – Stonehenge: Sighting the Sun – set to be released on May 8.

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